These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Bit of Civic Pride

Published in the Slough v Dover Ryman Premier League 11th December 2004

What can we say about last weeks defeat? Yes, the best team won and good luck to Yeading, but I can’t help wondering how a cup draw against Newcastle would have helped in our fight to return back to the borough. Still, as a non league supporter I’ve got to back Yeading now, especially after the Newcastle chairman engaged in a bit of ‘Slough council school of community spirit’ recently telling an international business forum that he didn’t care about smaller clubs. “When we have got 52,000 fans at each home game, the last thing we are worried about is clubs in the Third Division. There is no sympathy here.”
Luckily smaller clubs don’t hold such ignorant views and realise the importance of football clubs to their local community. So hats off to our Supporters Trust who decided to engage in a bit of supporter solidarity by donating £25 to our opponents today, who seem to be lurching from one financial crisis to another.

So did anything positive come out of last Saturday? I reckon it did. Just look at the attendance – an amazing turn out, with good banter in the pub and lots of ‘haven’t seen you for ages’ handshakes in the ground – it made me proud to be a Slough supporter even if some of my old acquaintances looked at me like I needed my head examined when I told them I still travel up from Brighton for games. It is also one of the most mixed crowds I’ve seen at a Slough match and this has got to be encouraged. I was also pleased to hear that a few idiots who did some monkey chanting at the Yeading goalkeeper were told in no uncertain terms to shut up.

Apart from those idiots, wasn’t Saturdays game part of the civic pride and community spirit local politicians always harp on about, when yet more fun is poked at the town of Slough?

I used to count the leader of Slough Council Richard Stokes as a friend – but he was not there to shake my hand on Saturday. Instead in one long phone call he told me one option to the problem of our homelessness would be Slough Town merging with another local club. A hundred and fifteen years of history consigned to the dustbin. Some civic pride.

I thought I’d check out the Liberal Party manifesto (of which Stokes is a member) to find out what they think about sport. Apparently “Liberals believe that good quality public sports facilities are important both for health and community spirit…We believe that local authorities should give priority to facilities which are not profitable enough to be attractive to the private sector. All sports stadia should be licensed and owners encouraged to extend their use for multipurpose recreation by local communities.”

Er, wasn’t that what we were proposing at Britwell? Still, I know I shouldn’t be surprised that what is in a party manifesto and what comes out of a politician’s mouth is usually unrelated.

Maybe the last word should go to a Walsall fan who posted on the Rebels message board: “I would just like to say thank you to everyone involved with Slough Town FC for welcoming us to the ground in the way that you did. We went into the match thinking that we would win easily, and you proved us wrong. The fans, players and officials of Slough Town FC are the nicest and friendliest I have ever met at a football game. You made us feel welcome and both sets of fans mixed well before and after the game. I wish you the best of luck for the future and hope you sort your problems out.”

It’s come to something when we get praise from a supporter of a team we humiliated in the FA Cup first round, yet spin and lies from local Slough councillors. The next time they talk about civic pride and community spirit, either reach for the sick bowl or remember to mention our cup run.